3D printing can be used to make all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, and most recently has been tapped by pharmaceutical companies to innovate pill production.

Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of Spritam, a pill used to treat epilepsy, is making headlines for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of its 3D printed drug. The pill was built layer by layer, using powdered medication with a liquid solution to make a water-soluble matrix. For patients who have trouble swallowing a traditional pill, this 3D printed iteration might help.

While 3D printing isn’t necessarily more efficient than traditional production methods, it does offer pharmaceutical companies more control over drug composition. The regular process of making pills can cause some pills to be stronger than others. While compounding pharmaceuticals is a highly specialized practice, 3D printing offers another means of tailoring treatment to specific patient needs.

There are many other ways that technology is improving healthcare. Check out our interactive infographic.

Written by IEEE on May 16, 2016